Monday, October 28, 2013

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs testifies during hearing of the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force

Richard O. Wightman, Jr. urges commission to consider unique role of the Reserve Component during the last decade of war

By Jenny Swigoda 
ROA Content Manager

In a hearing before the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense of Reserve Affairs Richard O. Wightman, Jr. asserted the unique role that members of the Reserve Component play in the current environment of the U.S. military.

“Our 1.1 million members of the Ready Reserve represent about 43 percent of the total force for approximately nine percent of the defense budget…These dedicated men and women have met, and continue to meet, the current and anticipated requirements of the services and combatant commands,” said Wightman during the hearing on Friday, Oct. 25.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, about 900,000 RC members have been activated, Wightman explained, creating an eight-fold increase from an average of 8.5 million duty days prior to the last decade, to 68.3 million duty days during the height of the surge in Iraq.

Wightman explained that his office has received positive feedback from employers regarding employees that serve in the Reserve Component.

“One of the reasons I believe is the current dwell ratio goal of 1:5 which promotes predictability and accessibility, two keys to the successful utilization of our Reserve Component members,” said Wightman.  

However, in the current “draw down” state of the military in Afghanistan, Wightman emphasized the need to continue utilization of the Reserve Component as a part of the operational total force in order to ensure national security and readiness.

“Today, the Reserve Component is at a level of readiness, reliability, accessibility, and combat experience never before see in our nation’s history. We must continue to preserve the quality of the all-volunteer force and not break faith with our men and women in uniform, their families, or their employers,” Wightman urged.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

ROA Demands an End to Government Shutdown

By ROA Staff

Today in front of the national World War II memorial, ROA demanded an end to the government shutdown, emphasizing the disproportionate impact on Reserve service members and their families.

Participating in a nationally televised press conference with our partners in the Military Coalition, ROA Executive Director Major General Andrew Davis, USMC (Ret) called on lawmakers to pay attention to the lasting impact this shutdown is having on the Citizen Warriors they have overlooked yet again.

“Frustration grows among the Reserve Component population as they are unable to fulfill their mission,” Davis said.

“After returning from war or disaster, they see that they are again being overlooked, making them feel that they are second class warriors. This federal government shut down proves to them that they are right, as it is unlikely that they will be able to make up lost training time and income, unlike furloughed civilian employees who will get retro paid. Our military readiness is being impaired, and 1.1 million people in the Reserve force are offended by how they are being treated. “

The Military Coalition, a coalition of 33 of the leading veterans and uniformed services organizations that represent more than 5.5 million members, organized the press conference Tuesday morning to demand an end to the government shutdown. The shutdown has been devastating for the nation’s military readiness and for the veterans, service members, families and survivors in the uniformed services community.

Veterans who receive disability and GI Bill benefits and survivors who rely on survivor benefits don't know if they'll get their next check. National Guard and Reserve monthly training has been cancelled, affecting critical troop readiness and pay. Many services that military families count on daily are suspended. Veterans make up 27 percent of the federal workforce and don’t know when they will get to go back to work. The 435,000 veterans in the VA disability claims backlog have to wait even longer.

ROA members are urged to help build on the momentum of today’s event by reaching out to their representatives in Congress and demanding action to end the government shutdown now.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

H.R.3274 Amends Pay Our Military Act to Continue Appropriations to Fallen Heroes and Their Families

Fallen Heroes and Families Assistance Act will ensure appropriations through a government shutdown

By Jenny Swigoda
ROA Content Manager

After an egregious oversight and widespread outrage from service members, their families and the public at large, lawmakers on the Hill want to ensure appropriations are made available to the families of fallen Soldiers during the shutdown.

Rep. Ron Barber, D-AZ, yesterday introduced legislation that would authorize death gratuity and other survivor compensation now and in the event of another lapse in FY14. The bill, H.R.3274, entitled the “Fallen Heroes and Families Assistance Act,” amends the Pay Our Military Act by redesignating “emergency appropriation of funds to provide death gratuity and other compensation on behalf of deceased members of the armed forces and certain other persons during government shutdown.”

Today, ROA sent a letter of support for the proposed legislation to House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. In the letter, ROA Executive Director Major General Andrew B. Davis, USMC (Ret.), said, “H.R.3274 would remedy the horrific situation that the families and military members face. Passage would allow the families to grieve and bury their loved one without financial stress, and deployed members of the uniformed services wouldn’t be distracted from the mission by worries about unsupported families.”

A staff member for Speaker Boehner expressed that the bill would be voted upon tomorrow and is expected to pass. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 9, the House passed H.R.3274 by a vote of 425-0.

We will continue to keep readers informed on the progress of this important legislation.

Friday, October 4, 2013

In Support of H.R.3241, Pay Our Guardsmen and Civilian Defense Personnel Act

After the unsuccessful push of H.Res.370, ROA lends support of legislation that would amend the Pay our Military Act (H.R.3210)

By Jenny Swigoda
ROA Content Manager

Earlier in the week, the Senate voted down H.Res.370, a joint resolution that included funding for Reserve inactive duty training and other groups affected by the government shutdown.

Today, Rep. Austin Scott, R-GA, introduced H.R.3241, the Pay Our Guardsmen and Civilian Defense Personnel Act. This bill would amend the Pay Our Military Act to include: funding for inactive Reservists, removes Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s determination as to what civilians he deems are “providing support to members of the Armed Forces,” thereby clarifying that we intended to fund all defense civilians, and covers dual status military technicians.

ROA offered a letter in support of Rep. Scott’s proposed legislation and continues to work with Congressional offices on both sides of the aisle, advocating for immediate passage of a provision to continue inactive duty drills and maintain compensation for all Reservists regardless of duty status.